Mobile Office

Posted by Donna Rouviere Anderson April 07, 2015

“I’m going on a trip and I’m going to take …. “

We work on the road quite a bit, so we need to take our office with us. Working efficiently wherever we are requires that we take a few key items with us on the road. Here are the physical and digital items we keep in our travel kit:

  • 13-inch Apple MacBook Pros for each of us, at least one iPad and at least one Apple iPhone 6.  We have been running on Apple’s train since about 1995. Buying our first Apple was probably the most important thing we could have done to simplify creative work.
  • An Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. This software package, which entitles the user to use any of the main Adobe products for $53 per year, is the best deal in the business for creative professionals.  We can download or update new Adobe software any time from any location, access Adobe support, and Adobe’s products are compatible with each other and other software we use. We consistently use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Edge Animate, Lightroom, Adobe Web Fonts and Premiere Pro in our work, and could never run a multimedia company without them. They are the main workhorses of our stable. We also use Cinema 4D animation software, which is not an Adobe product but is compatible with Adobe After Effects.
  • Omnigroup software – specifically Omnifocus, OmniOutliner, Omniplan and OmniGraffle. We organize our work in Omnifocus, which acts as a dashboard where all of our projects are kept. Omnifocus links with our project plans, e-mail and urls so that we can bring all of those into our task lists. It syncs on phones and tablets. We run our entire lives in it. We keep our workflow templates for websites, photo shoots, video shoots and print projects in OmniOutliner. We do project planning in Omniplan, generating task lists there that we can import into Omnifocus and we do web site mapping in Omni Graffle. 
  • subscription – We always have a subscription to this premier training library and train daily using tutorials. Because we can access it on the Internet from any hotel and on the phone in most areas, we can train in the car, in an airport, in a hotel room or almost anywhere else.
  • Western Digital My Passport backup drives – These small drives are smaller than a stack of 3 x 5 cards and hold 2 terabytes of data each. We carry a backup of all of our digital files, about a terabyte, with us everywhere we go, and these drives are perfect for it. They are USB 3, so they are fast, and they are durable. We carry them in a small padded Think Tank bag.
  • Nikon camera gear – We carry a minimum of two camera bodies and a 24 to 85 mm lens, an 80 to 200 mm lens, and a 105 macro lens with us. When needed, we add lighting gear, and for video, sound gear. 
  • Five Sandisk memory cards for the camera.
  • A Manfrotto light carbon fiber tripod.
  • Battery chargers for our laptops, cameras and cables for the iPhone and iPad, including wall and car charger cables.

Apps we keep on our iPhone:

  • Pocket Expense financial software on the iPhone. We keep track of our finances in real time with it.
  • MileBug app for tracking our mileage.
  • Weather Underground for tracking the weather, which is particularly important for photo shoots.
  • Yahoo weather app – shows the sunrise and sunset time and the phases of the moon, which can be crucial for photography.
  • Road Trip for tracking auto expenses.
  • Lighttracker app, which shows the angle of the sun for any given location, date and time.

To pack all of this gear, we use wheeled mobile office bags and also take backpacks. CaseLogic backpacks are the best we have found for hauling laptops and notebooks. For camera gear, we use Think Tank bags, which are the most versatile and useful we have found.

We always carry snacks, bottled water, a flashlight, small tools for fixing loose screws on camera and other gear and a Photographic Solutions camera sensor cleaning kit.

Other items:

  • Headphones.
  • Lots of batteries, including rechargeable ones for the camera.
  • A flash drive.
  • An extra car key.
  • A pocket knife.
  • Duct tape and black photo tape.
  • A notebook, a sketch notebook, pencils and pens, an iPad and a Wacom pen for it.
  • Small folding umbrellas.

All of this gear fits easily into carry-on luggage, with the exception of the tripod and pocket knife, which go in check-in luggage for plane trips.

For road trips, we load all of this plus clothes into our Toyota Echo, which gets 46 miles to the gallon on the road. Alas, Toyota stopped making this fantastic little car, but we’re lucky enough to have one that runs like a top on very little fuel. Plus, our gear fits perfectly in the trunk.